Sat, Jul 16, 2011 - Page 8 News List

Lee indictment is as hollow as Ma

By Lin Cho-shui 林濁水

Following the indictment of former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) by the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office Special Investigation Panel, Prosecutor-General Huang Shyh-ming (黃世銘) said that of course Lee should be indicted, because the nation cannot have a situation where only ordinary people are taken to court.

Make no mistake, it would be wrong to just charge ordinary people and let the rich and powerful off the hook, so even former presidents should be indicted if they are suspected of breaking the law, but it is equally important that this standard not just apply to former presidents.

It was correct to indict former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) for instances of blatant corruption. It is true that the president’s state affairs fund is much larger than a mayor’s special allowance fund and that Chen and his family employed all sorts of means to misappropriate government money.

However, in both Chen’s case and the case of President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) special allowance fund when he was mayor of Taipei, money was put to similar use, namely gift-giving and wining and dining guests. Considering that these two cases are almost identical in this respect, it is inconsistent that the charges in Ma’s special allowance case were dropped, but Chen was indicted and convicted in his state affairs fund case.

Indicting Lee for the diplomatic relations consolidation fund is even more vindictive. Chen and Ma both put money in their own pockets, but Lee did not do that with the consolidation fund. Since he did not pocket the money, why should he be charged with embezzlement?

All the evidence presented in Lee’s indictment is identical to that set out in the charges against former National Security Bureau (NSB) chief accountant Hsu Ping-chiang (徐炳強). Hsu was found not guilty, so there is no good reason to indict Lee on the same grounds.

Based on the principle of double jeopardy, the Code of Criminal Procedure (刑事訴訟法) states that a case in which a final judgement has been reached can only be retried if it meets certain conditions, such as the original evidence or testimony was false, new evidence has been discovered or the prosecutors, investigators or judges in the original case acted unlawfully or negligently. If these conditions are not met, the case cannot be brought to trial again.

This regulation exists to prevent malicious prosecutors from heaping endless litigation on a person. The principle of double jeopardy also preserves the order and stability of the legal system by ensuring that the courts do not get bogged down with frivolous cases.

The case against Lee is based on the same grounds as Hsu’s indictment. The evidence is the same and the conduct of the original prosecution and trial has not been found to have been in any way unlawful, so the case does not meet any of the conditions required for a retrial.

Nevertheless, this old case is being tried again, only this time with Lee as the defendant. Prosecutors have wilfully applied their own subjective views to the case, tailored it as they see fit and even swapped things and people around to intentionally confuse cause and effect.

Why was Hsu found not guilty?

The National Security Council (NSC) decided to set up an autonomous think tank along the lines of the Rand Corp in the US, and the council’s secretary-general, Ting Mao-shih (丁懋時), asked Lee to sign his approval. That is how Research Division IV of the Taiwan Research Institute was established. Evidently there was no embezzlement involved, hence the not-guilty verdict.

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